Traveling for wellness is not new; in fact, as far back as Ancient Greece saw people making pilgrimages to health centers around the world, which included thermal hot springs and other health treatments. Back then, the term "spa" had a very different connotation than the one we know today with amenities galore but instead spoke to the natural, homeopathic effects of hot springs flowing from beneath the ground. Therapeutic, natural spring waters have been present for millions of years, but these locations are often hard to get to or once-in-a-lifetime trips that end up on bucket lists, seldom fulfilled. The team at WorldSprings, also responsible for Iron Mountain Hot Springs located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, sought to change this, paving the way for a one-of-a-kind recreational wellness experience for every body.
Paving the Way for Recreational Wellness Experiences
As spas (in the more modern sense) have become ubiquitous around the United States, the targeting and messaging for them have begun to shift. Wellness patrons now look for a mix of pampering but are also interested or, in many cases, require an aspect of prevention. Thus. The recreational wellness experience was born. However, to provide the right experiences in the right way, one must first determine who these patrons are and how they can enjoy both a solitary and distinctive experience while being within a larger group of people. With differing needs, wants, and desires, this can be a difficult obstacle to overcome, and this is where our design team starts every project. Who they serve always drives the way they serve them, from concept, design and construction.
“This design is like no other product in the marketplace. Although we have features from other entertainment concepts, the combination of unique mineral pools, luxury saunas, and spa services combined with high end locker rooms and food and beverage offerings provide an exceptional guest experience,” said Steve Beckley, Owner of Iron Mountain Hot Springs and Glenwood Caverns.
Inspiration for the 40 soaking pods featured within WorldSprings replicate the areas where they originate (the pods are aptly named: Europe, Americas, Asiatic, South Pacific) and pay homage to regions like the Blue Lagoon (Iceland), Vichy (France), Hokkaido (Japan), the Dead Sea (Israel/Jordan), and Banjar (Bali), transporting wellness patrons through the sights, vegetation, and décor one might see in those locations.
Beckley continued, “We were fortunate to initially develop Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We learned an enormous amount of information on our first project, transferring that knowledge to WorldSprings at Grandscape in Texas. HFA was instrumental in taking our previous knowledge and using their expertise to create an even better experience at our first WorldSprings location.”
The Matchstick Process by HFA
Whether it's a 40,000-square-foot sports entertainment venue or a 12,000-square-foot recreational wellness retreat spanning 4.3 acres and pumping in more than 250,000 gallons of water, the first step in the Matchstick process always centers on a thorough client interview. This interview hinges on our team getting to know not just the clients that we will be working with but getting to know their goals and vision for the project, ensuring that we stay true to their brand. Who they serve always drives the way they serve them, from concept to completion. Which is exactly what our Hospitality + Entertainment team does with clients like WorldSprings, by using the Matchstick method. Once completed and the team feels comfortable with the project's scope, they create individual patron profiles to better narrate the design decisions made throughout the planning phase. For WorldSprings in particular, the team came up with three distinct profiles to guide their designs:
Distinct Patron Profiles
Matt & Lisa, The Married Couple
Matt and Lisa are an active married couple who thrive on adventure and strive to find new ways to enjoy each other's company. They're health-conscious and looking for a different date night, not just your run-of-the-mill dinner and a movie. They want to seek out an adventure they can enjoy together and talk about with their friends long after they check out. The multiple lounge areas dotted throughout the design allow them to do just that long after their spa experience has ended.
Anna, the Health-Conscious Yogi
This profile is based on a single woman who lives within commuting distance of WorldSprings (no more than 30 minutes). She is health and beauty conscious and enjoys doing things that help her better care for her mind and body. She's social and loves to meet new people, so the model and design of WorldSprings is the perfect avenue for her to do just that.
With at least two kids that crave action, adventure, and fun, this family is local to the area, living less than an hour from WorldSprings. The parents of this family crave the memories they can make with their kids while also enjoying a little alone time as activities permit. Thanks to the family-friendly pools and various food offerings for all appetites, big and small, WorldSprings is the perfect location for a day of family fun.
The implementation of these profiles differed in that this time; these patrons were given a more evergreen feel, allowing them to exist anywhere, as the team at WorldSprings was anticipating this location to be the very first in a prototype design program. By clearly defining who would use these spaces, the team could determine how the spaces would get used and what design aspects would make the most sense for those use cases. Once the patron profiles were detailed and agreed upon by the team and their clients at WorldSprings, it was time for the next step of the design work to begin.
“Partnering with someone like Nicole [and her team] with a background in the Hospitality + Entertainment space allowed us to speak a common language throughout the design process. Thanks to her experience, the process moved much more quickly,” said Jim Mikula, Senior Vice of Off Road Hospitality.
The second step of the Matchstick process? Gathering inspirational imagery that helps guide our team of designers, creating a unique look and feel for each project. For WorldSprings in particular, that involved a commitment to natural elements found throughout the world.
“These inspirational images influence our building design, color palette, and the final material selections. For WorldSprings we took a lot of inspiration from the natural palette, incorporating a combination of wood, water, metal, stone, and greenery into each building. Ultimately, we wanted to ensure that the entire built environment felt like it belongs in nature,” said Chuong Pham, Designer at HFA.
Scaling for Success: Duplication with Meaningful Modifications
At its very core, the design of WorldSprings is meant to overlay multiple uses and user groups simultaneously while providing the relaxing, inviting ambiance that wellness patrons expect. To do this, the space had to be designed as a functional yet approachable space for the family group and the lone spa-goer who has arrived to enjoy a solitary and peaceful experience.
“We want our guests to experience leaving the real world and entering the WorldSprings world. There are many natural transitions that happen through the buildings, which was at the forefront of our minds from day one of the design. The question was, ‘How do we transport our guests mentally, emotionally, and spiritually into the space—while also making sure they don’t get lost in the sheer magnitude of that space, as well,’” said Mikula.
So, whether patrons wanted to congregate in the food and beverage building or relax in one of the many pool pods, Nicole Poole and her team at HFA had to ensure that the design of the space flowed while accommodating the extensive mechanical requirements that keep these pools in working order. This proved to be a feat that was nothing to underestimate.
“They must maintain certain slopes to get the appropriate water pressure back into the pool's mechanical rooms. So, as we were in the planning stages of the mechanical rooms, we’d find out later that they needed to drop them by about five feet. Which doesn’t seem like it would have a big impact on the design, but it did. Plus, only so many pools can be connected back to one mechanical room before we need to provide another room,” said Nicole Poole, Hospitality + Entertainment Lead at HFA (AIA, NCARB, LEED AP).
One of the most fortunate aspects of working with the clients from WorldSprings was the sheer breadth of knowledge that they brought to the project. Steve Beckley, for instance, of Iron Mountain Hot Springs esteem, had designed mineral pools before and relied heavily on his background as a petroleum engineer to give him the knowledge he needed to move large amounts of water through the pipes necessary, guiding our design team when it came to the mechanical, technical, and logistical challenges of having 40 pods placed throughout the property.
Once they could work through the more detailed and intricate mechanical and plumbing pieces of the puzzle, Nicole and her team had to think through all their design decisions with the result in mind. But it might not be what you think. For this project, this would be the first of many planned locations, so not only would it need to work at this market location, but it would also need to live on as a prototype of sorts in other states and regions, as well. What works in the Texas heat doesn’t work everywhere, so the team looked at this design from many angles, ensuring success in the present and future.
“You want it to speak a design vernacular that isn't out of place in Dallas, Texas, but could also be modified but maintained if it were to go back into Colorado or up here in Michigan, where I live. Right? That’s a challenge you’ll run into with any prototype. But a lot of careful thought goes into that, and it becomes a fun design nut to crack. Our team has gotten very good at this because much consideration goes into the upfront material selections. That way, they can be tweaked but still represent the WorldSprings branding throughout the prototype design," says HFA Architect Matt Tillman (AIA).
Tillman continues, “We want it to be recognizable as a WorldSprings location. And maybe it's using a slightly bluer stone or a gray stone rather than the brown hues that we will utilize in Texas. We can then tweak that to create a different environment. We want to be able to successfully duplicate the design but make insightful and smart modifications to it as we go.”
As the designs for WorldSprings are finalized, and construction begins, the work for our team does not end. Nicole and her team are still working behind the scenes to support their WorldSprings clients by providing thoughts on interior design approaches, landscape design both in the interior and exterior of the facility, and, of course, working on the subsequent iterations of this wellness retreat concept, coming to other locations around the U.S. in the future.
Construction for WorldSprings is expected to be completed in 2024 and will be nestled close to Grandscape in The Colony, Texas, a more than 400 acre and 3.9 million square foot mixed-use, retail, recreation, and relaxation destination spanning more than 9 acres and serving the entire Dallas-Fort Worth metro.
Special thanks to Egle Bankauskaite, Chuong Pham, Matt Tillman (AIA), and Nicole Poole (AIA, NCARB, LEED AP) from HFA and Jim Mikula from Off Road Hospitality and Steve Beckley from Iron Mountain Hot Springs and Glenwood Caverns for their thought leadership and expertise throughout this article.
Want to know more? For more about our work with WorldSprings, please contact Nicole Poole (AIA, NCARB, LEED AP), Hospitality + Entertainment Lead at HFA (firstname.lastname@example.org).